TheBackPacker March 18, 2012 0

Choosing the Best Gaiters

Hiking gaiters can be an essential piece of gear when your backpacking in the Spring or Winter. I find in early Spring when it’s still wet, muddy, and cold, gaiters can keep my boots and socks pretty dry.

Hiking Gaiters are normally a synthetic type material that covers the top of your boot and the lower part of your leg.  Gaiters can protect you in many ways:

  • Keeps your legs warm when hiking in snow (especially snowshoeing)
  • Keeping your feet warm and dry when crossing small streams, or hiking in really muddy conditions.
  • They are great when hiking in tall blade grass, or ferns.

Another big advantage is during tick season. Ticks generally leap onto your leg or sock. Gaiters can be a huge benefit to make sure you don’t bring those pesky guys into your tent. 

Hiking Gaiters come in two heights, low and high.

  • Low Gaiters, 8” to 12” tall, are designed to mainly keep debris and water out of your hiking boots. These are recommended for basic hiking conditions.
  • High Gaiters are 15” to 18” tall. These are the workhorse Gaiters. They protect you during more extreme conditions, like bushwacking, deep snow and bad weather.

What kind of Gaiters should I get?

What’s the Activity?

  • Mild-Weather Hiking Trips – Trail Gaiters are your best bet. These have basic protection against some rain, rocks and grit. These are normally breathable and lightweight.
  • All-around Hiking, Mountaineering and Snowshoeing – Alpine gaiters are what you need. These provide better abrasion and water protection than the Trail Gaiters.

Good Gaiters can be costly, but well worth the investment. Nobody likes hiking in wet socks. Look for Gaiters that are waterproof. Gaiters that have a waterproof and breathable material are going to cost a bit more, but can be worth it for comfort.

Durability is the key. Keeping your legs free of abrasions is of utmost importance. Make sure the material is strong.

I wear the Outdoor Research Gaiters. These guys have never let me down and have always kept my feet dry.